VISTAS Software

The VISTAS software is a desktop application that accepts geospatial data and renders complex, spatiotemporal datasets into interactive 3D scenes, allowing users to explore and focus on aspects of their data that are influenced by terrain. VISTAS emphasizes a modular, extensible architecture that enables scientists to create data and visualization plugins to ingest geospatial data and produce customized visualizations.

VISTAS is currently available for Windows, with an experimental Mac OS version. VISTAS is open-source and freely available and source code, plug-ins and an issue tracker can be found on the VISTAS github repository (

 Minimum Requirements for running VISTAS:
1.  Windows OS
2. OpenGL 3.3 or greater

If you want to find out what version of OpenGL is on your computer, you can download and run the OpenGLExtensions Viewer .  When you run it, you will see something like this.

To install VISTAS, download the file VISTAS….zip to your computer. This compressed zip file contains in its name the current version you are downloading.  For example contains VISTAS version 11.1.    In addition to the .exe you will use to install VISTAS, this file includes the dll’s,  png’s, shader codes, etc.  To install VISTAS, simply click on the .exe file.

With the VISTAS Download come the  VISTAS Sample Files, so you can confirm that VISTAS  runs properly on your machine.

  1. the VISTAS QuickStartGuide gives you a feeling for what the system should look like, using one of the sample files you will download.
  2. You can also download three  “how to” videos and user documentation
    The videos cover

    1. basic usage (getting started)
    2. exporting visualizations (e.g., for presentations)
    3. creating fly-throughs
      The (same) videos are available on YouTubeHow-To Documents are in a separate folder at this site.  When you click on that folder, you will see a list of documents, which you can then download one by one.   The most recent documentation for VISTAS, labelled for version 1.9.0, is unchanged for the most recent release of VISTAS (1.10.1 and beyond).

See the VISTAS Introduction for an Overview of VISTAS functionality, some history of the project, and some sample visualizations.

VISTAS is no longer under active development, but we remind potential users that it is a research prototype. Though ease of use was a priority, our science collaborators have asked that we focus on additional functionality

For Developers’ Documentation see VISTAS internals

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